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Posted on Mon, May 10, 2010 : 5:25 p.m.

New Plymouth Road park-and-ride lot offers alternative option for commuters to Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton


Michael Ford, CEO of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, speaks at today's event.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority officials held a ceremonial ribbon cutting today, officially marking the grand opening of the agency's fifth commuter park-and-ride lot.

Existing AATA park-and-ride facilities already take nearly 1,000 vehicles off the road each year. And with the opening of the new lot on Plymouth Road at US-23, another 260 spaces are available for commuters using the heavily traveled M-14 and US-23 corridor.

"Tens of thousands of people come to work in our city every day — people who don't live in Ann Arbor," said Mayor John Hieftje, who appoints AATA's governing board. "We are exploring and working on a number of ways to bring them into the city. We provide places for them to park their cars, lots for them to park and take the bus, they can ride their bike, and now we're working on rail options to bring more and more people into our city without their automobiles. And this is just another step in that direction."

Hieftje joined U.S. Rep John Dingell at today's ceremonial event. Also there to speak were AATA CEO Michael Ford and Nancy Shore of the getDowntown Program. They said the project is part of AATA's ongoing effort to provide environmentally friendly and cost-effective transportation facilities.


AATA officials were joined by Congressman John Dingell (second from right in forefront), Mayor John Hieftje (left) and several others for the ribbon cutting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"Commuters using this park-and-ride and TheRide bus service will cut travel costs while helping to reduce traffic congestion and pollution," Ford said. "Gas emissions will be reduced significantly."

All bus rides taken from the lot this week will be free of charge. The new lot is served by AATA's Route 2 along Plymouth Road, which operates throughout the day with trips as frequently as 10 minutes apart during peak hours.

Shore pointed out the savings that could be realized by people who commute to work in Ann Arbor if they use the lots instead of paying to park downtown: About $150 a month.

"I know how important this option is for many of the commuters we have coming downtown," she said. "According to our most recent evaluation in 2009, we found that almost 50 percent of Ann Arbor employees who work downtown do not live in Ann Arbor. So that means an option like a park-and-ride lot is going to be a great way for them to get downtown, both conveniently and affordably."

Today's event was mostly ceremonial. The new lot actually opened several weeks ago and has seen heavy use since.

Construction of the lot was funded entirely through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


Congressman John Dingell speaks at today's event for the opening of the Plymouth Road park and ride lot.

Ryan J. Stanton |

“This capital project was in the works for AATA before the ARRA, but when the stimulus passed, AATA was able to use roughly $1.5 million in funding to construct the lot," Dingell said. "This had a three-fold benefit: It saved $1.2 million in federal formula funds that TheRide will be using to purchase new buses; it freed up the state 20 percent match, or $300,000, to provide matching funds for other transit projects; and most importantly, it allowed local Michigan businesses to save jobs and hire needed workers."

The lot was developed in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Transportation, city of Ann Arbor and the Federal Highway Administration.

In addition to 260 free paved parking spaces, it features passenger shelters, lighting, security cameras, a signalized entrance-exit, enhanced storm water detention, designated areas for passenger drop-off, carpool/vanpool parking and 20 covered bicycle spaces.

Hieftje said park-and-ride lots are one part of the city's overall strategy to facilitate more sustainable transportation in Ann Arbor.

"Of course, everybody isn't going to use a park and ride lot, everybody isn't going to use a bicycle," he said. "People are still going to want to drive downtown and park there, people are still going to want to drive to the hospital and park there. But for as many of those people who will take a bus downtown, who will use a park-and-ride lot, we want to make sure that there's space for them, AATA wants to make sure there's space for them, and this is going to be a growing phenomenon around our city."

Today's ribbon-cutting helped rally support for the annual Commuter Challenge, a month-long competition during the month of May between downtown Ann Arbor businesses and organizations that encourages individuals to use sustainable transportation to get to work.

The AATA also announced a new website today at The site is part of the agency's push to become the transit provider for all of Washtenaw County and includes opportunities for public input on the countywide vision.

Dingell also announced today he will be fighting for continued transportation improvements in Ann Arbor, including the Detroit-to-Ann Arbor commuter rail project and "reconstructing that miserable Stadium bridge."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, May 13, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

Stephen Lange Ranzini " For $1.56 million couldn't they have afforded the cost of ten feet of asphalt to connect the new sidewalk to the bridge?It seems to me for all the talk about encouraging people to bicycle or walk too little thought is given to making it safe for people to cross the interstate highways that ring Ann Arbor." Technically, bikes aren't spozed to be on the sidewalk...they're vehicles. That said, the lot makes it super convenient for the van to park that drops off those two hobo-panhandlers that work that freeway exit.


Wed, May 12, 2010 : 11:19 p.m.

I'm so glad my property tax dollars and additional transportation millages are being used to fund conveniences for people who don't live in the city, and don't think they need to pay a city income tax because they don't use any resources. I thank my political leadership for representing me and spending my tax dollars so that others can reduce their commute costs and not suffer the inconvenience of paying for parking, or sitting in traffic. Where's my union rep?

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 4:39 p.m.

I am very glad to hear that the lot is getting used. It is a little bit out of the way for me. I use unofficial park and ride lots all of the time because there isn't one convenient to me. I save hundreds of dollars in parking and since I park in lots which are significantly closer to my house than my final destination, I save a lot of money in gasoline too.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 2:53 p.m.

The lot is an eyesore and makes the area look terrble. I agree about the signage as well. Very confusing. We missed the on ramp on Sunday and ended up in the lot to turn around and try again.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 1:08 p.m.

New signage is DEFINITELY needed to alert drivers exiting US-23 South at Plymouth Road -- these motorists (myself included) - particularly those turning left (east) on Plymouth Rd - are used to having the right-of-way when the light turns green and I've witnessed a dozen or so near-collisions with drivers exiting the Park-and-Ride lot turning right. Reconfiguring the stoplight to include a left-turn arrow is probably overkill, signage with some orange flags (like those on M-14 where the speed limit just changed from 55 to 65) would probably do the job just fine.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

I live in this area and often use the southbound ramp to US-23 when eastbound on Plymouth Rd. I agree with the comments, "something has to be done" to improve visibility in this area. Who is responsible for the fix? AA City? The State of Michigan or Federal officials? When will the issue be fixed?


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 10:48 a.m.

The Park 'n Ride is a fine idea. Now just coordinate all the lights at that intersection and it will be great. People exiting left from the Park 'n Ride lot have to contend with people exiting the freeway. I've witnessed a few close calls, especially at the evening rush hour.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

While the Plymouth Rd Park-n-Ride lot might help keeping some vehicles out of the Hospital and Downtown area, the newly redesigned AATA Route 2 ( Now Routes 2A, 2B and 2C), have made it difficult for commuters who live in the city neighborhoods on the North and south sides of Plymouth. Essentially, people like myself, who are disabled,and thus are unable to drive a car, have to wait for the 2C bus that comes by only once an hour, or one has to change buses,and waste a lot of time transferring to another bus. While the Route redesign helps people who commute in to Ann Arbor to work, the AATA has essentially thumbed its nose at riders who live in Ann Arbor neighborhoods in the North-East part of town, and who are among Ann Arbor citizens who have to pay the hefty taxes that help pay for the AATA's continued existence. We pay the millages, yet are denied AATA service.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 9:31 a.m.

It's a very nice facility, our new park and ride lot. However, I wonder why does the brand new sidewalk that runs East from the project abruptly end in the grass rather that connect to the existing sidewalk across the bridge over U.S. 23? For $1.56 million couldn't they have afforded the cost of ten feet of asphalt to connect the new sidewalk to the bridge? It seems to me for all the talk about encouraging people to bicycle or walk too little thought is given to making it safe for people to cross the interstate highways that ring Ann Arbor.

John Q

Tue, May 11, 2010 : 5:27 a.m.

"why is the city building a 600 space parking lot in the middle of the city and donating park property to the UM to build, oh...let me guess...another parking lot near the hospital!?! I would have thought the answer too obvious for someone to ask the question but the answer to your question is that the lots serve totally different groups of users. As was noted, the park-and-ride lots mainly cater to employees commuting to work. Downtown lots are primarily intended to serve those coming downtown to do business, shop, eat, etc. Ann Arbor is fortunate that there's enough demand for both. The more rides that can be shifted onto buses and out of cars, the better for city streets.


Tue, May 11, 2010 : 5:12 a.m.

I drove by this lot and also got confuse for the on-ramp to southbound US-23. Good thing I slowed down instead of gearing up to freeway speed. Too funny, it's a parking lot! So if people will be using these lots scattered across the city to keep more cars out of the downtown areas, hospital and other areas, then why is the city building a 600 space parking lot in the middle of the city and donating park property to the UM to build, oh...let me guess...another parking lot near the hospital!?!

5c0++ H4d13y

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 6:49 p.m.

This is basically a feeder lot for the hospital and central campus. Not that that's a bad thing.


Mon, May 10, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

This system has been a great idea and enjoys success. Any project that can cut down on the number of cars within the city is preferred. It provides more room for pedestrians and maybe most important it reduces the need of more inner city parking lots. Keep adding more options like this.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 6:36 p.m.

speechs, politicians, ribbon cuttings, photo opps for a parking lot? Its a parking lot people. Is there no dignity left in the world? Its a parking lot for crying out loud. How many of those people draw some or most of their pay from "we the people"? Did I mention its a parking lot?

John Hritz

Mon, May 10, 2010 : 6:28 p.m.

One issue with this lot is that it seems hard to differentiate the on-ramp to southbound US-23 from the entrance to the parking area. Don't know whether others found it confusing. Signage or some other visual cues could be in order.